Conor Gallagher has revealed he had a frank conversation with manager Thomas Tuchel about his future and role at Chelsea and intends to fight for his place in the side.
The midfielder enjoyed an excellent campaign on loan at Crystal Palace last season, even earning a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad, but there were question marks over his future at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have cashed in on a host of young academy starlets in recent years and Gallagher has accrued a host of suitors, including Everton, Aston Villa and Palace.
But Gallagher is ready to shun a move away and is fully focused on impressing Tuchel, revealing that he actually bumped into the German coach by chance at the end of last season and made his case.
Asked about their impromptu meeting at a pub in Cobham in April, Gallagher told the Daily Mail: ‘I was trying to hide!
‘It was funny because I saw him through the window and whispered to my girlfriend, mum and dad, “God, it’s Thomas Tuchel”. He sat on the table right next to us so he couldn’t miss me.’
He continued: ‘I’ve got older brothers who say if you’ve got something you want to say, then do it. Managers aren’t scary – they want to talk to their players and know what your thoughts are.
‘I told him what I thought and he said what he thought. I said I think I’m ready to play for Chelsea.’
There was also a phone call with Tuchel encouraging Gallagher to earn his spot: ‘He said he wants me to be part of the squad and to prove myself in pre-season, so that’s the plan. I’m happy with that and just willing to work as hard as I can to prove to him that I can play for Chelsea.
‘It’s what I wanted to hear, it was a nice phone call that we had and it gave me a clear plan of pre-season and where I’m going to be. It was great to hear.’
Even though Gallagher’s decision could put his World Cup place in jeopardy, with Southgate keen to pick players who are playing regularly for their club sides, he feels it is a risk worth taking.
‘I feel ready for a step up in my career,’ he continued. ‘If there is a chance to be a part of the team at Chelsea then I can’t turn it down.
‘I’ve got to have belief in myself that I can show the fans and the boss what I can do.’
Gallagher’s decision will come as a blow to Palace – who would have jumped at the chance to sign the 22-year-old on a permanent deal – though the midfielder had some kind words for his old boss Patrick Vieira.
He added: ‘Patrick’s not been sure of my plans for next season, he might find out through this! I can’t speak highly enough of Patrick. He was perfect for me last season.’
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